Daniel Buarque: You point out in your article, “Anti-Semitism and the Left that Doesn’t Learn” (check it out, a fine article-SO), that Israel’s legitimacy is often questioned in the world because of conflicts in the Middle East and because of Israel’s relationship to the Palestinians. Should the rest of the world celebrate the sixtieth anniversary of Israeli independence? Why?
Mitchell Cohen: One of the points I tried to make is that Israel is subjected to double standards, especially on the left. Saying that gives me no joy: I identify with the left so my criticism comes from within the left. I celebrate the birth of the state of Israel because it represented the success of a national liberation movement. Here you have a people, the Jews, who had been persecuted for centuries, who had been the internal “Other” of the West. Their suffering culminated in the Nazi slaughter. From its origins in the late nineteenth century, the Zionist movement was pessimistic about the future of the Jews in the West and in Russia. Many liberals and leftists told them that they were too “particularist” and should put all their faith in universalizing political movements—communism or liberalism, for examples—but nobody can look back at the last century and say that the Zionists were wrong in seeing that emergency was at hand and that what might be called political Esperanto was wrong. Continue reading →
Speaking to Israel’s Parliament, President Bush accused those who believe in diplomacy to make America and Israel safe of indulging in a “foolish delusion” and the “false comfort of appeasement.”
Even more offensive, he likened us to those who favored talking to rather than defeating Adolf Hitler on the eve of World War II. How dare he invoke the memory of the Holocaust to justify his disastruous policies.
For seven and a half years, this President’s policies have fueled the fires of extremism rather than dampening them. His delusions led us into a disastrous war in Iraq. His disdain for diplomacy has alienated friends and emboldened enemies.
And the results? The forces of extremism are stronger than ever. Al Qaeda is on the move – into Iraq and elsewhere. Moderates are on the defensive from Lebanon to the Palestinian territories and elsewhere. And the United States and Israel are less secure.
This is Bush’s legacy. And he has the nerve to accuse us of indulging in “foolish delusions”?
This, Mr. President, is not what we want to hear on the 60th anniversary of the founding of the state of Israel. Real friends of Israel know that only a US-led diplomatic offensive in the region will resolve the Israeli-Palestinian and Arab-Israel conflicts and ensure Israel’s security for another 60 years.
I don’t know if I’d go so far to say “only a US-led” diplomatic offensive will help move towards a resolution, but Bush’s speech in front of the Knesset was um…pretty silly. I wonder if Bush really thinks that Obama is to Iran or Palestine as Neville Chamberlian was to Germany, but I suspect that remark was also directed to many of the European countries that favor a diplomatic tack (instead of brute force) as well, especially in their criticisms of Bush’s debacle in Iraq, as well as the ongoing ravings of Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
There was an interesting op-ed in the Buenos Aires Herald about 60 years of Israel here. Here is an excerpt: Continue reading →